Horse racing: Doug Watson keeps two win cushion as UAE Trainers’ Championship race hots up

Dubai: Doug Watson’s quest for a seventh UAE Trainers’ Championship continued at Sharjah on Saturday afternoon with the American handler’s lone success in the only thoroughbred contest on the card ensuring the two-win cushion he carried into the penultimate weekend of the UAE season remained intact.

Three meetings of the 2020/21 campaign remain, including Sunday’s six-race, predominantly Purebred Arabian Abu Dhabi card, which could have a massive impact going into next week’s last two race meets at Meydan and Al Ain.

Going by the total races that remain for each breed, Purebred Arabians dominate Thoroughbreds 11-9, which means three-time Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel, mainly associated with Purebred Arabians, has more opportunity to strike than Watson, who is predominantly associated with Thoroughbreds. The form of Watson’s yard late in the season might, however, be a concern for his rivals.

Watson went into the weekend with 36 winners, two more than Oertel, but after the American won the Thoroughbred run at Al Ain Friday and Oertel scored twice on the same card, the pair were just one win apart heading into Saturday.

At Sharjah, Watson’s triumph in the lone Thoroughbred affair took his tally to 38, while Oertel’s inability to strike, left him two behind with three meetings to go on 36.

Watson combined with Polish jockey Szczepan Mazur to win at Sharjah, Falcon Flaws delivering for the pair as he tore into the opposition in the straight to win by a massive five and a half lengths from Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s Mears with Sandro Paiva up.

Frenchman Eric Lemartinel added a brace to his tally, winning the opening two runs to take his score for the season to 21. Italian Antonio Fresu won the Frenchman both races, with Dhafra showing a good turn of foot to run away to a .75 length success in the card-opening 1000m handicap sprint for UAE breds. The pair made it two from two with Al Ajayib showing terrific late acceleration to win the following 2000m maiden for UAE breds.

Abdul Aziz Al Balushi’s fine form in the saddle continued at Sharjah with the Omani apprentice landing the 1700m handicap for UAE breds. Al Balushi was on target in the feature event on Friday, the PA Prestige Al Ain Sprint and at Sharjah he turned in yet another splendid performance aboard Majed Al Jahoori’s Ashtr, who dominated the field to win the 1700m run by a solid 4.5 lengths.

The feature event at Sharjah, the HH Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup, a Prestige Handicap over 1700m, was won by Badr Al Hajri’s Al Mufham SB, who left it really late under Al Moatasem Al Balushi to win by a neck from Khalifa Al Neyadi’s Saif Al Balushi driven AF Ramz, who was in turn a neck ahead of Ahmed Al Mehairbi’s third-placed Munfared, the ride of Fernando Jara. It was a first UAE success for Al Hajri with only his second runner here.

Sharjah’s last race of the season, the Sharjah Marathon, a 2700m handicap, was won by Helal Alalawi’s Asraa Min Al Talqa, ridden by Al Moatasem Al Balushi.

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